Lost art of talking trash

I haven't paid as much attention to it the past few years. But there was a time not so long ago when I kept track of how many people deleted me from Facebook every college football season.

In my heyday, I lost an average of eight to 10 “friends” a year.

See, I’m a college football internet trash talker — and I’m the worst kind of trash talker because, after covering college football for a living for so many years, I actually have some idea what I’m talking about ... at least some of the time.

To make things worse, I’m a lifelong Alabama fan. I didn’t just jump on the bandwagon when Nick Saban showed up and took over the sport during the late 2000s. I endured the ribbing from other fans during the rocky years — and because of that, I feel like I’ve earned the right to say whatever I want now.

That’s the most important part of being a good trash talker — the ability to open your mouth without someone saying, “Where do you get the nerve?” or “What has your team ever won?” or “Who exactly are you again?”

In this digital age, the world is full of trash talkers whose only qualification is a good Wi-Fi connection.

They haven’t earned the right to puff their chests out. They have no data to back up their yammering. And as a result, they get crushed for it when they step over the line.

For example, I know this fisherman who once fished 78 tournaments on a major professional bass fishing trail. His average finish in those tournaments was 66th place.

That’s not trash-talk worthy.

There were 25 times during his career when he finished 80th or lower, nine times when he finished lower than 100th and one time when he finished an unbelievable 161st.

Again, not exactly the kind of numbers you go on social media and taunt all of your competition with.

But nonetheless, this guy took to the internet to pound his chest — and predictably, he was roasted for it.

Heavyweight boxing legend Muhammad Ali was the athlete who invented trash talk. With phrases like “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” and “Rumble, young man, rumble,” he was the king of the ring and the post-fight press conference.

He was widely considered one of the greatest sports figures of all time and certainly earned the right to say whatever he pleased.

Basketball great Kobe Bryant was an 18-time All-Star who helped the Los Angeles Lakers win five NBA championships.

He was once quoted as saying his goal when he had the basketball was to “make the guy guarding him regret his decision to ever take up the sport.”

Bryant had a right to say whatever he wanted without anyone saying a word in return.

Those guys earned the right to talk smack, and then they backed it up.

I understand the internet is to blame for the lines of reality being blurred. But they have certainly been blurred.

Too many undeserving people talk trash these days and then end up being tossed out with it.

So, do yourself a favor.

The next time you decide to post some boastful nonsense, ask yourself if you’ve really earned the right.

If the answer is anything other than “absolutely,” hit the delete button and go fishing instead.